Post by charleshelm on Aug 2, 2019 19:56:17 GMT -5
Conan was more muscular than Kane, Kane relied on speed although he was strong and wiry like all REH characters. Kane relied on finesse in swordsmanship (and outright skill), Conan wove a net of steel and used pantherish speed and strength rather than finesse. Conan was more concerned with women than most of his contemporaries but was not truly chivalrous like Kane. I don't see Conan tracking someone for years for revenge for someone he never knew and giving up his own goals in life. Also, Conan had ambition that Kane did not.
This is all off the cuff so if I misstated something I beg forgiveness, didn't consult the texts.
What you said is accurate. Still, those are all fine distinctions. Compare Conan and Kane to Miss Marple, Winnie the Pooh, or any character Lovecraft ever wrote, and they start to look a great deal alike: Both warriors, relying primarily on one-handed swords, with ancestry from the British Isles, who wander great distances, are very self directed, prefer to work alone, etc. It's true that they are clearly distinguishable from one another, but the distinctions are not large.
Moreover, even when there probably should be a difference, there isn't:
Kane is a puritan, so (like Conan) he has the heart of a pagan?
And he's cold and calculating, which is why (like Conan) he constantly flies by the seat of his pants?
And Conan came from a people similar in technology to the Germanic barbarians, so (like Kane) he relies on swords rather than spears, and never has a shield?
Yes, they're different, but they're similar even when they really don't have good reason to be.
I don't see the point in making character comparisons across genres and authors. I don't see how being a puritan gives you the heart of a pagan...those 2 things are very different. Kane uses firearms as well as a sword, and a very different type of sword. Conan is far from cold and calculating but he also plans.
Imagine going out on the town with each of them...what kind of tie would you have?
Of Solomon Kane: "He was a man born out of his time—a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan, though the last assertion would have shocked him unspeakably." (Robert Howard, the Moon of Skulls)
I like that about Kane, because it gives his character a certain inner tension and complexity, but you have to admit it also gives him a surprising similarity to Conan.
Your question about going out on the town I think highlights what I'm getting at - I wouldn't go out on the town at all. If I were the protagonist in a sword and sorcery, I wouldn't be like Kane or Conan or solve the problems they face in the way they approach them. Here are some ideas for characters I might myself relate to:
Possibility 1: "a Stygian with the shaven head of a student sat at a table brooding over nameless mysteries, and some nondescripts wrangled over a game of dice in a corner... [Conan] gulped the cheap wine with relish and then followed Aram out of the taproom. Behind him the players halted their game to stare after him with a cryptic speculation in their eyes. They said nothing, but the Stygian laughed, a ghastly laugh of inhuman cynicism and mockery. The others lowered their eyes uneasily, avoiding one another's glance. The arts studied by a Stygian scholar are not calculated to make him share the feelings of a normal being." (Robert Howard, Shadows in Zamboula)
Possibility 2: Anaeus, the scion of a lost race who carries a shield, a spear, and a sling. Though his shabby toga and rambling amiability lend him the semblance of a dusty old man, more than once have his enemies perished under the vigorous onslaught of his youthful and well-muscled limbs. Grief and hardship have made Anaeus wise beyond his years. His is the calm loquacity of a born philosopher who loves simplicity, cherishes human life, and avoids fighting unless stealth, withdrawal, diplomacy, or ambush are impossible.
Or if it were permitted, possibility 3: Evulsifer, an ancient being who recoils at the touch of healthy sunlight to plot and brood in the silent darkness, gathering knowledge and spinning webs of intrigue. When he goes among mortals he is a looming being - tall, broad shouldered, with powerful white hands smouldering eyes hidden by a black cowl. Yet for all his evident inhumanity, Evulsifer is distracted and unnerved by the vestiges of human connection which leave him unable to fulfill his plans with the clean efficiency of which he dreams.
With some reworking, Kane and Conan could replace one another in many of Howard's stories. By contrast, Howard might be able to fit one of my three gentlemen in to replace either Kane or Conan, but it's hard for me to imagine how. The stygian would have a series of adventures focused on the acquisition of artifacts, perhaps similar to Cugel's Saga, Anaeus would have the sword and sorcery version of adventures seen on Kung Fu or Dr. Who, and Evulsifer is very nearly a skulking, murderous villain, except that his hand would be stayed by qualms and fancies.
We were discussing a long time ago in another thread how most of REH's characters need a similar base of skills and abilities in order to credibly survive the kinds of opposition REH throws at them. Most tend to be at the top of their game when it comes to physical prowess, fighting and adventuring, to a degree that is romanticised but not beyond human potential.
Beyond that baseline they are very different to varying degrees, especially with regard to their motivation. Some might argue for instance that El Borak and Kirby O'Donell are interchangeable but this is not correct. Their characters, motivations and backgrounds are different and in a fight between the two my money would be on El Borak.
Kull, Bran and Conan are all disaffected Barbarian Kings, but beyond this and the baselines mentioned above they are all very different characters.
"...I want to know where I came from and why and what relation I hold to the rest of the universe."
- Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, week of 20 Feb 1928, CL1.170
Post by themirrorthief on Nov 4, 2020 17:49:03 GMT -5
I agree with the differences but in some respects in all honestly He developed universes more than characters, Black Vulmea is a lot like Conan but he lived in an entirely different time which Howard wrote about effectively, especially for a quick writing pulp master
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